North Queensland will hope history remains on their side as they seek to avoid back-to-back home losses when they face Gold Coast in the second NRL Queensland derby of round four.
Todd Payten's Cowboys have won 12 of their last 15 games against the Titans and only conceded two tries in their 2022 fixtures while pouring on a total of 62 points.
Clashes between the Cowboys and Titans have been decided by 20 points or more spanning back to the 2020 season.
But Payten expects Saturday's contest at Queensland Country Bank Stadium to be closer, with their opposition showing some early season form.
"I hope we're on the right side of that," Payten said when told of the blowout wins each club has enjoyed since 2019.
"Tomorrow is going to be tight, both teams are still finding their best footy and ours is still in front of us.
"Our focus is on what we do. They're a good attacking team we're going to have to defend well."
Defence has been an issue for the Cowboys through three rounds of 2023 after enjoying the second best points-against record in the NRL last year.
Teams have found weaknesses down their right channel and edge, with eight of their 13 tries conceded so far coming from those areas.
Last week the Cowboys were turned over 26-12 at home to the Warriors and the task does not get much easier, with rookie Alofiana Khan-Pereira - who has scored three tries in as many games for Gold Coast - set to test their right-edge defence on Saturday.
Gold Coast coach Justin Holbrook said winning just their second game from the last 12 trips to Townsville would be pivotal heading into a bye week.
"We're only going into round four but if we're good enough to win this week going into a bye it can set us up nicely," he told reporters on Friday.
"We can be four from five and then we've got a couple of home games in a row.
"Three from four after having three away games would be enormous, but the other three weeks are done.
"We've just got to nail this week and play well tomorrow night in Townsville."
Australian Associated Press
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